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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Journey (long one at that)-Back To My New Old Me. The Backstory





There has been a lot I have wanted to write, but just haven't. Unfortunately I'm the kind of person that feels like I have to follow step-by-step in everything. This translates into me feeling like I couldn't blog until I addresses all the blogs I've wanted to write. At this point, I'm throwing that notion out. If I get to the previously intended writings, great. If not, oh well. So here I am after a LONG pause. I'd ask that you read this entirely before coming to conclusions. Reading half-way will leave you with the wrong impression. I do realize I can't control your thoughts and am aware that some will walk away completely misinterpreting my feelings. I guess thats the risk I take. This is more cathartic than anything, but hopefully there is an ounce in value in my ramblings.

Today I make part of my usually private journey
very public. I intend to blog and Facebook update on my journey into being skinny and healthier. I have generally been pretty quiet and embarrassed about my weight situation, but I'm getting to be more and more i
n a place where I don't care about only presenting the "good" side of me. I am human. I make mistakes. I embarrass myself. I sometimes embarrass others. Oh well. After so many years hiding who I was and avoiding ANYTHING (no
matter how absurd it seems now) that could label me as possibly gay, I just don't care anymore. I have loved coming out, even though it has been tough. I have found being a more authentic me to be something tha
t brings me great peace and joy. So here it is,
the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. All in one package.

I will warn you that I will
be pretty blunt about things. I will talk about things I have never talked publicly about. Sure I'm a little scared, but overall I'm excited. Sure, this may
be narcissistic, but don't we like that? We like being narcissistic about ourselves and we enjoy getting the juicy details of others. We are hum
an.

You may feel lost in how the following revolves around weight loss. Its more than a physical journey. So here is the mental and emotional part of this journey:



I was a very skinny kid when I was younger. About age 6 or 7 that changed rapidly. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. Was it
genetics? Was it how my parents fed me? Was it
due to lack of activity? Probably a little bit of all
of that. In reality, the major cause wa
s hiding. It may se
em counterintuitive to think that putting on weight would mak
e me more invisible, like an elephant trying to hide behind a daisy, but it worked. I struggled with weight all throughout my school years. I hated being in that shape.
I hated not making the soccer team. I hated not being noticed by others. I hated being embarrassed to show up for swim meets. I hated buying clothes that fit. I hated so much, but it kept me safe and secure.

From what? I wanted to feel attractive, but didn't. I wanted to be noticed, but also didn't. I didn't want anyone to see the "darkness" in me. I w
anted no one to realize how hot I thought the basketball players were. I wanted no one to pay attention to me as my gaze lingered a bi
t too long at the guy at his locker. I had to hide in plain si
te. There was also something else I subconsciously consciously hid. I was not a believer in t
his and its very hard to portray exactly my thought pattern.

Just imagine a spiderweb of thoughts that was continually wovern and re-woven over each other. Each strand of thought somehow
making things appear better, but in reality just making such a tangled mess that its possible to find yourself unable to get out one day. Luckily I never found myself sown so tightly in my own web that I died there. There are far too many that have. After being out and after meeting some that were in that woven mess of thought I was in, I am amazed. I am sad for those people. I can
see where their logic and "new, miraculous, c
uring" thought has brought them temporary
peace. I know all to well, however, that the bright day follws with a dark night. That miraculous thought loses its shine and you quickly fall into that despair, once again, that it didn't work. The nights I spent crying over the loss of whatever new miracle that died is far too many to count. And far too painful
to spend much time thinking of. I feel such sorrow when I run across others who are in a place I once was. I deeply wish they could see how amazing they are just the way they are.

Slight tangent there. But those thoughts were part of my hiding
. Part of what allowed me to feel safe as a fat kid.

There was another side to my hiding. I had wr
apped it up in the same web as being gay. After all, we are taught that you aren't just born gay. We are taught that somehow I had let the devil in my sole and chose to find that guys smile intoxicating. We are taught that somehow I chose to be different. I chose a life where people would hate and be disgusted by me for merely loving another man. They didn't have to watch it or know anything else about me. All they ha
d to here was "gay" and I was suddenly drenched in garments of blackness. Really? Why would someone choose to be hated? (To clarify, I am very happy to be gay. I wouldn't have chosen any other way had their been a choice now.) So my "other" dark passenger (Dexter theft there) was easily mixed into and the blame for my attraction to other men.

As I said before, I w
as a skinny kid. (the youngest in the pic below) Looking back now, I realize more and more what one of
the building blocks for my weight was. I can trace it in p
hotographs even though I can't specifically place an age or time on it. I never believed people who could "forget" abuse only t
o remember it years down the road. I
always found it troubling....until it happened to me. I guess I can't say I never forgot entirely, bu
t it the memories had a fleeting
dream like quality where they never seemed all too real to me. It wasn't until I was 19 that those dreams were sharpened and I realized that they were, in fact, real. I had been abused. I had been experimented with. That teenage boy and those flashbacks of events were real. Not just some random boy, but someone I had known well and still know of. Someone who still is in my life from time to time, even though he has moved on to marriage and kids.

So that was that.
At age 19 I had found my root. I had found where I had
let Satan into me. I had found where I turned gay. (please don't stop re
ading here) So, I did what any good Mormon boy would do. I talked to my bishop. I walked in with a heavy heart but expecting that my revelation
would lead me down the "straight" and narrow road to heterosexuality. I fully expec
ted that this would be a day of miracles. I would get a priesthood blessing from a man of God and find myself cured......I walked out of his office later that day disfellowshipped, (
LDS form of temporary punishment), the charge to correct my immoral thoughts and behaviors (think "Little Factories" or more officially "For Young Men Only" talk by Packer), and an appointment with the Stake Presiden
t. Y
EAH!! Talk about disillusioned and hurt. Who the Hell was this man to disfellowship me when I had just poured out my heart? I had tried to finally get help with my burden only to have him throw another rock on and send me on my way, alone. That was the straw. I saw the Stake President once and got the same treatment. I was done. I faked going to my girlfriends
church and just stopped going.

I was now angry and hurt. But I knew it was all my fault
. I had let myself get there. I had let the gay thoughts continue. I was still intoxicated by a guys smile and very attracted to the jocks amazing biceps. I had let it happen. I knew that the sexual experimentation, when I was young (narrowed it to somewhere between 4 and 6 years old) was not my fault. I had no guilt there. my only guilt was that I had let it affect me and turn me gay. I had let down my family, my parents, my church,
my friends, and my God. I was ev
en letting down the girl who thought I was so amazing. I plead with God nightly. I spent hours and hours driving the valley at night. Listening to music. Trying to come to grips with a new plan to be cured. Begging and begging and begging God to just let me be normal. To let me be cured. To let me be worthy of his presence. I began adding new thoughts to my web and began making things look better. I began again. I went back to church (the g
irlfriends ward) and I worked on trying to be more spiritual. I worked to lock those
feelings up. I built a safe that would survive an atomic blast. I did something else. I sought out counseling. Of course, as a good Mormon boy, I
would not see a counselor that was not LDS. I would not be lied to. I would not hear that being gay was OK. I found an old LDS man who was a practicing therapist and I went. I drug my girlfriend along with me. I had my sword and shield and went full on into battle to overcome my "root" and cure my homosexuality.

About all I recall from my sessions was one bit of advice. "Picture where you want to be in life. Picture what would make you happy." (aka think happy thoughts and it'll go away) I still have a very vivid memory of what that picture was. I was on a
porch swing in the brightest spring sun. I was sitting next to my
girlfriend. We were happily married and I could see myself being a family man. I now realize how ridiculous and absurd the "happy thoughts" counsel was, but it was something to hang onto and I ran with it. I was going to overcome my abuse and being gay. I didn't continue seeing the counselor as I felt I had found enough rope to hold on to and start climbing up.

After Dad passed away (whole other story and also another way I hid. Although I am grateful that I hid behind his illness and caring for him for those two years. I would never have gotten to know my father any other way. I was blessed to spend that very difficult time with him as he slowly died. My one regret is that I never told him I was gay. I think he had an idea though.) I contemplated a mission again. I was still worried about being w
ith another man for 24/7 and being able to control myself. Especially if he was cute. I sought counsel from my bishop. I retold my story and disclosed my
attraction. He knew who I was dating. It came down to marriage or a mission. His counsel was marriage. It came across as the best option considering what I had gone through and my weakness for being attracted to men. It felt, again, like marriage was going to be the cure and I had the Lord's blessing to prove it.

Liz and I married in the Salt Lake Temple. It was a beautiful day. I was so happy. I had arrived. I was sealed in the temple. I was as good as my brothers finally. I was a good Mormon. Also, the day was beautiful for another reason....I had planned it all. (S
hould have been a sign). I helped pick out the flowers. I insisted on the venues for the breakfast (Lino House, of course. Couldn't be more righteous) and for the reception (Joseph Smith Building 9th floor window right in front of the Temple). I was on a roll. I was immersed in all things LDS and "holy." It was a beautiful venue. I honestly think I was more about the decor of the room and the place then I was about it being my wedding day. There was a moment while Liz dressed for the reception that I stepped out in my Tux into the the decorated, but empty reception room. I was blown away at how awesome it looked. (seriously have no idea why no one else, including myself, had picked up the gay scent on me yet)

So maybe you don't see where weight comes into this, but it does. I'm long winded and terrible at short stories, Sorry, deal with it ;-)

We married in 2003. Things were good. Sex was great. My "darkness" only occasionally managed to break the lock on the safe. And then there came being a dad. That first night hold Ben Jr was pure magic. What an amazing experience. I spent most of the night awake in the hospital that night just holding this amazing being in my arms. He was so cute, so adorable, and I was HIS Dad. I can't even come close to describing my thoughts and feelings that night. I was blessed.

Things got a little rocky in my world. I loved being a dad, but Ben Jr had colic and I had much more patience for his crying. Granted I hadn't just had a C-section. I loved being a dad and seemed to have the patience of Job when it came to his late nights. Unfortunately lack of sleep, late night TV, and the fact you can't be at peace in a lie gave strength to my "darkness." I controlled it better this time. I hid it better. I had time at hom
e alone. I couldn't hide driving late at night, but I could listen to music at home and get lost in my web.

January 2007 came along. I found myself openly struggling with my "darkness" and looking for the next miracle cure to come along. I sat watching a relative playing water polo and being embarrassed at my weight. I wanted to stop hiding in plain site. I wanted to be playing water polo. I enjoyed the view of youth I never had. I liked seeing the buff swimmers builds out playing in the water. I wished I was in that kind of shape. I was determined to shed the weight and get in shape. I weighed 317 lbs that January. That is the heaviest I had
been and I was well on my way to XXXL and XXXXL shirts. Enough was enough. I needed to get in shape for myself and I needed to be an example to Jr and the new baby on the way. I downloaded a program on my Palm phone and watched calories like crazy. I went swimming when I could get away. I started losing weight. It wasn't too hard, but still required concentrated attention.

A few months into it I was seeing and feeling results. I was too afraid of anything but swimming. I didn't want to weight lift and look like a weakling or be on the treadm
ill. I wanted to avoid public view as much as possible. I didn't want anyone to see my lack of athleticism or ability as being "gay." Ridiculous now. So, I swam laps and was able to hide amongst the old people doing water aerobics. They did there thing and I hid doin
g laps.

I had opened Pandora's Box with all this "health" stuff. I started feeling better about myself. I felt better and felt I started looking better (even though I couldn't fathom why even my wife found me attractive). I had hid in flannel shirts and the most conservative, aka camouflaged, clothes I could find. I was a walking fashion faux pas. It didn't matter. I was ugly anyway. But, the worst thing happened. I began to realize that if I lost my weight an
d that the rumors were true that I was a decent looking guy, then I would be in a Hell of a mess. I would no longer be hidden. I had put out such an ugly vibe and self-loathing that I would never have known if another guy had ever given me the time of day. But losing weight? I was panicked. I could become a slimmer, more attractive guy. I could attract other men! I was scared to death. I had no will power to fend of the advances of another man. I had never felt the need to be equipped that way. I knew I was ugly and was sure every other guy thought so. My safety was unlocked on my gay trigger. No one had noticed me, I had still maintained, but one day they might. I had a lifetime of training, but had never prepared fro the thought that I could actually be attractive. It was over if another guy found me attractive and made advances. I knew it and I felt nak
ed and defenseless.

This is when I realized that marriage hadn't cured it. It hadn't even contained it well. It was a force stronger than a nuclear blast and my emotional safe was about to be destroyed. I was going to Hell. I should stop losing weight, but I didn't want to. I was worn out in my fight to be straight and narrow. I WAS MAD AS HELL. WHY HAD GOD FORSAKEN ME?!?!? I was not cured and never would be. It was a slow realization over the course of most of that year. I was the Executive Secretary to the Bishop in my Ward and found it increasingly convenient to find busy work in order to avoid Gospel Doctrine and Elder's Quorum. I would even just go sit in the Clerks office and hide at times. I was down with church. I was mad and hurt by God. I had built a family and my sons were going to lose a father to the Hell and misery of being gay. I spent more and more time just feeling numb as I went through the motions of th
e life I had built. I was facing a life of misery as I knew I could never really be happy if I were to be gay. We had been told that. My whole life I had heard how miserable turning from God would make me. I was too tired though. I had nothing left to give. I had tried and failed. I would not be counted among God's children anymore. I just couldn't do it any longer.

So, while others have come out and not taken the same path, I stepped out on my marriage. I am an analytical guy. I once shopped at every single electronics store just to find the right CD player/ Alarm clock. I was facing Hell, but still couldn't accept I was gay. I was just same-sex attracted and a failure at it. I was never going to be good enough to be cured. I had my root cause and that young men and sent me to Hell. Being as analytical as I was, I did step out on my marriage in order to see if there was really anything to these "th
oughts" that haunted me. I had to find out if there was a heart behind a cute guys pecs. I had never experimented with another man beyond locker room antics. Like with the alarm clock, I shopped at several "stores." during this time period. The difference was that I had hoped I wouldn't find what I was looking for. My last thread of thought in my ugly web. My last attempt to prove I was heterosexual. I was so wrapped up in myself and my plight that emotionally missed the birth of my youngest son Tucker. I loved him. I had a s
trong attachment, but it wasn't the same. I wasn't anywhere near peace in my life. My emotional absence those last few months of marriage is the one thing I truly regret. I wanted to be a better father, but I was lost in a world of self-loathing and disgust. While there are more honest options, I really didn't feel bad about stepping out on my marriage. Those random connections were the only thing keeping me alive. The only things that brought me an odd sense of peace and truth. I wish I had found a better way, but things are what they are a
nd I cannot change them.
In October on one late night I finally found the thing I had hoped I would never find in such a place. I found peace, joy and excitement. I had lied about needing to help someone fix their car late at night and I had stepped
out to meet a younger man who I had had a little interaction with. While we were not a long term match by any means, something clicked inside me. I found the heart behind the pecs and I knew that being gay was not about sex. Sure, thats what I was doing, but there was a more intimate and emotional connection than I had ever felt in my life. I drove home in a sense of euphoria and peace like I had never felt. The feeling of safety I had imagined to be in another mans arms could actually be had. While the even
t was only a fleeting moment, I knew my feelings were real. But now what? Now what do I do? I have a family. How could I ever tell them I was forsaking God and giving up? Giving in. I didn't and I tried to find one more strand of thought to hold me to my web of internal lies.

I was on cruise control. I nearly stopped my "shopping around" to some degree. I was no longer only intrigued by the physical intimacy with a man, I was yearning for the emotional connection. Liz and I separated during the week of Thanksgiving. Awkward to s
ay the least with family. I made up an excuse that wasn't believed, but wasn't fully confronted. My sister with a "Savior" complex stepped in and to save the day. I told her everything about my "root." I told her of the abuse and told her how it had made me gay and how I was tired of fighting it. Here response was that she knew of gay men who were making marriage work. She started pulling up talks and everything about surviving abuse. I listened, but my mind was mostly made up. I just couldn't pull the trigger. The song "Boston" by Augustana (youtube link here) had come out that year and spoke to me. Music had always spoken to me. It had always been my sacred place to go when the world hurt too much.I had started planning to move away from Utah and leave it all behind. No one would have to watch
me give up on God and live in sin. My sons would be better off without the poor example of a gay dad. Liz came back and we survived the holidays. I was gone, there was no part of me interested in my old life and I spent another month in limbo, hoping for a cure, but no longer feeling an ounce hope. I had lost 50 lbs and was feeling physically better and excited for what the road held. I planned to come out, but not really. I still wasn't "gay" I just was attracted to men. Makes sense, right? It did to me. I had planned the day I would leave my wife and fall off the cliff of righteousness. It was a week away. Unfortunately Karma is a bitch. The week before Hell Day a man I had been with several times and had helped me realize I had worth decided the guilt was too much and let my wife know he had been involved. I don't blame him and wish him the best on his journey. He gave me that final push and thats that. We separated and things got ugly. I'll save that for later. I came out to my brothers and sisters on Superbowl Sunday 3 years ago. I could only admit to being bi at the time (also another blog post for later). I spent hours listening to music before that Sunday. John Mayer's "Say" had just come out and it spoke to me on such a
personal level. Hence the title of my blog. Believe me my hands were shaking. It was my life he sang about. (linked here) I'm sure my brothers were thrilled to be taken away from their Superbowl parties to find out there brother was a homo. I told them of the abuse and of course linked it to being gay. (promise I'll address this in a minute).

So, if I get the time I'll continue those stories, but back to the weighty matter at hand. I dropped down to 260 at my lowest. Unfortunately I too have a history of a "Savior" complex. I link this directly to my upbringing in the church. If I could help and "save" others it might help me be good enough in God's eyes. Thats was my train of thought then, but not now. The habit dies hard though. I began talking to this guy who was in Provo at the time and looking to divorce his wife and leave the church. (another post as well). He claimed to be straight, but played every chord
perfectly when summoning my "Savior" complex. I lost myself in his world. Hypnotized like a Cobra to a snake charmer. Unfortunately, he was the snake. I fell for him and eventually told him that I had very strong feelings for him. I was being my new, more honest and authentic self. Unfortunately that ended badly, but not before I nearly let him break my spirit. I found myself in depths of pain I hadn't felt since my closeted years. He had built me up, told me he loved me, then ran. He literally conned me. I have later found out details that lead me to believe that he lived a double life with me and was using it as his own way to test the waters of coming out. Of course he hasn't, but all signs point to it. Unfortunately he is a Utah County LDS closet case (in my experience that can be the worst kind, sorry to offend). I feel for the pain he must feel, and it has taken me a year and a half to overcome the depth of my feelings for him. I do hope good things for him, but I have finally had enough with letting him hurt me.

So this is where I am today. I have regained my spirit. I am single and happy to be working on purely myself. I have also come to some conclusions on my abusive "root" and being gay. I did come to some peace with it shortly after coming out, but thoughts still linger. I do not believe in any way, shape or form that the abuse has anything to do with my sexual orientation. I was born gay. I have luckily had some memories come back to me where I know I had crushes on other guys my age, even before the abuse. Crushes is a strong word as I didn't even know what one was at the time, but I do recall a connection and attraction I felt to other boys my age. I was born gay. It is just who I am. I once found relief in blaming the abuse, but I find peace in knowing I was always this way.

This does leave me amongst a world of thought and wonder. Surely the abuse had some impact on me now that I can't believe it made me gay. This will take time to iron out. I truly believe that the abuse only enhanced the ugly and damaging internal beliefs that being gay was a ticket to Hell. It was like salt on a wound. A wound that should never have actually been a wound. I believe the abuse drove me further underground. The abuse wasn't physically painful. While I was incredibly young, there were still feelings and sensations that weren't unpleasant. I do believe it scared me in that I did not hate it. I think it ushered in some realizations that otherwise would have waited a few more years to manifest. I do believe it is part of the root to my physical health and the need to find safety by making myself ugly. It led me to hide in plain site. It created awareness that I was too young to begin to comprehend. I hid it and I locked it way. I used weight as an insulator and protector of those impure thoughts and unanswerable questions.

In breaking my ankle in early November, I felt derailed. I had fought through the pain of the closet case that almost killed me, but I did put on some weight in my "Savior" attempt. I lost focus on myself. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I believe you have to take care of yourself in order to be any help to anyone else. When I take care of myself I am a better person. This does not jive with LDS teachings of putting others first. It does jive with the thought that you have to love yourself before you can love others. Bad habits die hard and I stopped caring for myself with this closet case in my life. I crept back up to 280 while "saving" this fraud. The broken ankle added 10 more to the mix.

I have done some things to deal with the pain the Provo boy caused me and have felt like I have taken control of those feelings. I am back at the gym and it feels great. I no longer have Vic haunting my every emotion. Any that have seen "Biggest Loser" know that losing weight is more than a physical journey. It is a mental and emotional one. So here I am, cathartically sharing this journey. It continues today.

I am sure I will have to deal with confidence issues as I become more active. I avoided all sports when I was younger. I made it look like lack of interest, but it was lack of skill and worrying that my gay "darkness" would somehow show if I couldn't dribble a basketball well. I couldn't publicly handle embarrassing the self I already hated. I didn't lift a single wight until a year ago. I didn't want to be a sissy. Today, I don't really care. I will work at my own pace. Great for those that can bench 5 million pounds. I don't care. This is about me and how I feel.

I'm back to the New Old Me that had a sense of confidence after coming out. Here is my journey.

My conclusion is that I am making this weight loss journey public. Not because I seek praise, but because there will be bad weeks when I need the push. I am fairly good at being self-motivated, but know that won't always be. I hate to come across like a narcissist in this journey. It is not my intent. If you feel like adding encouragement, great. There may be times I ask for it. It will be more regularly tracked on Facebook. If you aren't my friend there, just send me a message about where you find my little corner of the universe and I'll add you.

Goals:

I don't have an exact number that I want to weigh in at in the end. My guess is somewhere around 215. I don't recall being that small, so I have to see where I am when I get there. I do have a short term goal of being 240 by June 2011. I'm not up for diets or crazy cures. I am going to do this through eating better and exercising.

I will weigh in every weekend.

Todays weigh in:

290.0 exactly

I'm sure I'll post "before" pics, but probably not til I'm closer to "after." Not enough confidence to let it all hang out right now.

Thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend!
-Ben

2 comments:

jebix said...

Reading your blog for the first time made me cry. It is such a long journey. Sometimes it is so lonely and miserable. Sometimes it is so amazing. Thanks for sharing.

"Lucky Jake" said...

as an overweight, gay, married mormon, I found a lot in your story that resonated with me.

but there are still many differences, and its interesting to hear about how others handle similar situations.

i wish you the best on your journey to lose weight and your future in general.